Worship

It’s about…Remembering and Rekindling!

Join Us in Celebrating Life

We call our worship services “Celebrations of Life.” At three services each weekend, we join together as a room full of doubters, dreamers, theists, atheists, blue-staters, red-staters, Jesus fans, meditators, mystics, lovers of reason and lovers of life. While our perspectives often differ, we all share the desire to express our gratitude for life and to reconnect with who we most want to be.

Thus “worship” for us is a time of expressing thanks, finding peace, listening for that “still small voice” and hearing challenges to live our lives with boldness, passion, clarity and risk.

If you too find yourself in need of such a weekly “spiritual jolt,” we’d love to have you join us.

Service Times

We hold our Celebrations of Life (worship services) on Saturday at 4:30pm and Sunday at 9:30am and 11:15am.

Dress comfortably. Some of our folks wear suits and tie, some wear shorts and sandals, with the vast majority wearing outfits in between. Whether you dress up or dress down you won’t be alone!

Religious Education for children and youth is held during Sunday services from fall through spring, with childcare being offered during Sunday services. Crafts and other activities are sometimes messy, so children should dress appropriately.

A brief (45 minute) UU101 class for visitors and newcomers is often offered following our services. This is a comfortable, no-pressure opportunity to get a brief overview of our faith, talk with our Connections Coordinators and ask any questions you may have.

Monthly Worship Themes

We structure our worship with ten monthly “spiritual themes.” Focusing on one general spiritual theme a month allows us to go deeper into the topic. Many of our small groups integrate the themes into their discussions, which gives us the chance to hear what our friends and fellow church members think about and have learned about the theme.

To access specific sermons, visit our Sermon Library.

2016–17 Worship Themes
September: Covenant
October: Healing
November: Story
December: Presence
January: Prophecy
February: Identity
March: Risk
April: Transformation
May: Embodiment
June: Zest

Joy and gratitude lie at the heart of our worship services. Indeed, Unitarian Universalists use the phrase “Celebration of Life” as often as “Worship” to refer to our services.

Philosophy of UU Worship

Our understanding of worship is non-traditional. We take seriously the originally meaning of the word, which literally means “worth-shaping.” Thus, for us, Sunday mornings are about “shaping” (celebrating, wrestling with, integrating, arguing with) “things of worth.”

Or to put it another way, we join together to “remember” – to remember things of worth, to remember what makes life truly worth living, to remember who we most want to be. This idea of reminding each other what truly matters is especially central to our worship at First Unitarian.

Some newcomers are surprised that the word “God” is so rarely used during our services. This is because we understand collective worship to be broader than honoring or connecting to a traditional personal deity. Some of our members find such connection important and use our time of prayer and meditation to meet this need. But whether we are a theist, agnostic or non-theist, we all believe that the sacred visits us all as we gather to help each other say thanks for life and remember who we most want to be.

Worship Music Ensembles

Below is a list of the many opportunities to join in the music-making here at First Unitarian. If you have any questions and/or would like additional information on these opportunities, please contact me, Thom Snell, at FirstUMusic@gmail.com or call 585-271-9070, x110.

Choir
Our un-auditioned Choir meets Wednesdays at 7:00-9:00pm in the Music Room. The choir sings most Sundays at the 11:15am service, offering a variety of sacred and secular repertoire from all eras and genres. Music reading skills are helpful, but not absolutely necessary to be a choir member. Singers of all voice parts (but especially tenors!) who are in high school or older are invited to give our Choir a try.

Bell Choir
The Bell Choir meets Tuesdays at 7:00-8:30pm in the Music Room. No ringing experience is necessary, as the fundamentals of hand bell and chime ringing will be taught during rehearsals; however, music reading skills in either the treble or bass clef are required.  Please register in advance by sending an email to FirstUMusic@gmail.com.

Intro to Ukulele
Want to learn a musical instrument in a low-pressure, fun, social environment? Our Intro to Ukulele class meets on Mondays at 7:30-8:30pm in the Music Room, and teaches the basics of ukulele, such as chords, strumming, and playing simple melodies. No experience necessary. This class is open to middle school and high school youth and adults of all ages.  Please register in advance by sending an email to FirstUMusic@gmail.com, and indicate if you need to borrow a uke for the class.

Ukulele Orchestra
First Unitarian’s Ukulele Orchestra meets on Mondays at 6:00-7:15pm in the Music Room. This group is for intermediate and advanced players, and plays in church services every 6-8 weeks.

Orange Sky
Our house band, Orange Sky, is looking for talented guest instrumentalists and backup singers. If you have experience performing pop, rock, jazz, blues, or gospel music, please contact bandleader Melissa Boyack at melissaboyack@gmail.com to arrange an audition.

Orange Sky has released an EP and it can be purchased as a digital download.

Crescendo Fund


Crescendo Fund
Edward T. Schell III retired as Minister of Music from our church in June, 2012 after 34 years of inspired service. The Edward T. Schell III Crescendo Fund was set up to honor his legacy both in our church and the Unitarian Universalist music community at large, with a focus on two of his key contributions, bringing the pipe organ into our church and creating the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN) along with co-founder Joyce Gilbert in 1983.

At the discretion of the committee, the funds may be used to put on concerts featuring the organ, and/or for grants to our church members to attend Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network (UUMN) conference.

Applying for the UUMN Grant:

General criteria for applicants to this fund include the following:

  • Applicant must be an adult member of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester.  Staff members of the church are not eligible to apply.
  • Applicant must be a participating member of the music community of the First Unitarian Church.
  • Upon his/her return, the grant recipient will be expected to share his/her UUMN conference experience with others in our community.

Links to the application (as Microsoft Word and PDF files). Application deadline is April 20; applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision on or before May 1.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Thom Snell, our Music Director.